FBI searches Detroit City Hall, 2 council members’ homes

National News

An FBI employee guards the entrance doors to the Detroit City Council on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Detroit. Federal agents searched the homes of two Detroit City Council members, Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson, and city offices Wednesday, just a few weeks after another official was charged in an alleged bribery scheme. (Jose Juarez/Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — FBI agents on Wednesday searched offices at Detroit City Hall and the homes of two City Council members, just a few weeks after another councilman was charged in an alleged bribery scheme.

Agents and state police were seen at the homes of Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson. Agents also were seen leaving City Hall with boxes.

There was no immediate comment from Ayers or Benson, who are running for reelection.

“The citizens of Detroit have a right to a city government that is free of corruption,” Tim Waters, head of the FBI in Detroit, told reporters outside City Hall. “No one is being charged today. Simply what we’re doing today is collecting evidence.”

Authorities have been investigating Detroit-area corruption for years.

Ayers’ name emerged several years ago in a bribery investigation involving towing magnate Gasper Fiore, according toThe Detroit News. She has not been charged in that investigation.

Last month, Detroit Councilman Andre Spivey was charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit bribery and accused of accepting $1,000 from an undercover law enforcement agent in October 2018. The indictment also alleges that between 2016 and 2020, Spivey and “public official A” accepted more than $35,000 in payments to influence votes “concerning an industry under review by the council.”

In June, former Councilman Gabe Leland was sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court to probation after pleading guilty to accepting an illegal $7,500 cash campaign contribution. Federal corruption charges were to be dismissed as part of Leland’s plea deal.

In 2018, Fiore, of Grosse Pointe Shores, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for his role in the bribing of a suburban official for help with a municipal towing contract. The government has said the money was funneled through an executive at a trash-hauling company, who also pleaded guilty to corruption.

Former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Celia Washington also was sentenced that year to a year and a day in prison in a corruption case related to towing contracts. Washington was accused of accepting at least $3,000 from Fiore. Washington served as the Detroit Police Department’s legal adviser, responsible for overseeing private towing companies that remove cars seized by police.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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